Miracles of God's Leading



The Purchase of 140 Saint Regis Property

The original price was 1.2 million dollars. The newly organized congregation, (formerly York Region Filipino Seventh-day Adventist Company) was scouring the North of Toronto to buy a property for almost 2 years. The hope of building a house of worship of their own was so strong among its members. One Sabbath morning, a non-Adventist lady attended the meeting at Willowdale Christian Reformed Church located at Hilda Avenue. Pastor Efenito Adap learned that she was a real estate agent. Until now the unanswered question remains, who sent her there during the service? A non-Adventist? That was a mystery! In the course of conversation, Pastor Adap mentioned to her that the congregation was looking for a property to buy for a church. After that initial contact, beautiful locations were shown, but the prices were all beyond the congregation’s ability to manage even for many years.

Ely Lagazo (the first Elder then) accompanied Pastor Adap in many visits to look for available properties, but the hope seems to be diminishing. Somehow, something is prodding them to continue, to look for other options. An idea came, "why not look for an already existing building with a possible parking space that might be available?" They then shifted directions where to look. The lady real estate agent presented houses of worships from renovated industrial buildings. “Why not?” Pastor Adap surmised to himself and rationalizing "these buildings can be renovated into beautiful houses of worship, at least in the inside." Then the worldwide recession struck, affecting the real estate market in Canada significantly. The huge 140 Saint Regis property, with a three level office space fronting the street, measuring 101 feet wide by 175 ft. long, situated in a lot measuring a little less than one acre became available. It has enough space for the parking needs, and parking spaces from adjacent neighbors can be available, if needed. Looking at the advertisement, the price of 1.2 million was crossed out, and the word reduced to sell was written on the listing. The Church board was called to approve an offer of $600.000.  With the Church’s money available of about $200.000 at that time, the church moved in faith with the thought that the Lord can provide. The initial offer of $600,000 was returned as not acceptable. Understandably, the real estate agent was very disappointed, but not discouraged. She suggested to Pastor Adap, “Why don’t you come with me and let's talk to the owner?”, which he readily replied, “Why not?” They went together to see the owner (Mr. Donadio), and on their way Pastor Adap was praying hard.  They learned that Mr Donadio, who owns several industrial buildings in the City was unloading some buildings because of the recession.

After some pleasantries, Pastor Adap went direct to the point and expressed the need of the congregation. He said, “We need your property, we will use it as a house of worship. I know that Church groups are difficult buyers because there are many committees and boards involved before decision can be arrived at. I am giving another eight thousand dollars ($8,000) of my own, clear the building and we have a deal.”  The Italian owner was speechless then said, “Give me one night to think about it and to tell my daughter about your final offer."  The following morning, the offer was returned with their approval. The next step was to seek approval from the Ontario Conference. As a very young church the next question is ... "Is the church qualified to borrow the necessary amount to buy the property?" The rest is history. The Lord also provided all the other financial requirements through the members. There was great joy in the whole congregation, but Pastor Adap has extra joy in his heart, and said "It was amazing how God leads!"




Architect's drawing

George Solijon remembers the frustration after acquiring the property but unable to start the renovation. An Architect was hired to  design the renovation at a negotiated bargain price from Zardoka and Associates, really very low price compared to what was then the prevalent charge of around $9,000.00.

Birthe Chan was appointed as Building Manager, aided by Ely Lagazo (then the head Elder).  Birthe was chosen because of his knowledge in reading blue prints of our Architect.  We rented few equipments to help in construction but for few months, the rented equipment remained unused because Birthe has to go to California with unknown time of return. 

Since Birthe was unable to continue to perform his role as Building Manager, George Solijon was requested to fill Birthie's shoes, inspite of the fact that  he does not know how to read blue prints, not to mention understanding and interpreting it. George says, "that in itself is a miracle, as it was the first time I have really handled one and also, I guess the last time. We were able to interpret those complex drawings to the satisfaction of our Architect with some exceptions where we deliberately changed his plan into what we believe was the best for our Church—to the Architect’s dismay and consternation, which actually also caused the architect not to interfere with the Construction until it is finished. The construction went unhindered and done according to what we interpreted as the best for our Church."




No General Contractor

The Ontario Conference has now approved the purchase of the property at 140 St. Regis. The big question is ... "How do we start the construction?" To hire a General Contractor would definitely costs money, which the church has none.

In September 1993, a group of Adventist friends from several Filipino churches met to establish an automotive corporation called "Somato Systems, Inc.", with the purpose of supporting and servicing the growing members and friends of members who own cars.  The purchase of 140 St. Regis was not even on sight. At the time when Mt. Zion Church is ready to renovate the "warehouse" into a "church", this fledgling automotive company run into trouble and was in need of business to sustain its operation. The church agreed to take Somato, Inc. as the General Contractor, and at the same time sustaining the business operation. As soon as the building construction of Mt. Zion is ongoing, the Somato, Inc. can no longer sustain its operation and was sold for a price just enough to cover its liabilities. All shareholders lost money in this venture. The question is ... "Was Somato, Inc. established at the right time just to start and get the renovation of Mt. Zion church going?" No one knows, but God does!




Tony Trozzolo Miracle

Now that the property has been acquired, the financial load on the congregation started to mount, which include paying the mortgage, rental at Willowdale Christian Reformed Church, the cost of renovation to the tune of about $350,00 to $500,000, architects fee, utilities for new property, permit fees and many others. Somehow, all of the monthly obligations were taken cared of and defies any explanation. We can only say that God is good and the renovation continues.

Brother Birthe Chan, the construction supervisor then, started working together with some members. They started to break the concrete pavement to lay the plumbing for the washroom in the mother’s room measuring 2 feet by 140 feet, as well as the removal of the north section pavement at the other end of the building with the expanse of 100 x 25 feet to reduce the size of the building in order to build a new foundation for the north wall. The crew rented one jackhammer, concrete saw, and started the job breaking concrete, after which they found out that they only can excavate one square foot every 30 minutes or even less. Pastor Adap questioned in his mind, "when can we finish this backbreaking task? Maybe till Kingdom come."  But God can make things happen. Tony Trozzolo (George Solijon's acquaintance), an Italian contractor came by the  construction site looking for George. When he saw what the crew were doing, he laughed, or maybe his right feeling was "pity".  He was so moved by our "simpleness". The following day he came with a mighty machine, a large backhoe. After two days, his operator finished all the excavation and clearing all the slabs throwing them away. How much did we pay him? Not a cent! Can you imagine how amazing or miraculous it was for us? The work we were prepared to do for 2 months or maybe more, was done within two days! The God factor was the Trozzolo miracle.




The Amazing Building Inspector

The church does not have any professional person available who really knows how to do things and there was no engineer’s supervision. "God will provide" became the mantra. Members were ready to help, but they know little or don’t know at all.  The project: Excavate deep where needed, must be below the frost line, that is six feet minimum, make iron rebar for the cement reinforcements, measuring two 50 feet long. The renovation crews do not even know or has very little knowledge about the materials needed and where to find them ... like sono tubes & frost barriers. But God has one who knows all well ... the building inspector. The blessings came beautifully through the City's building inspectors. The  one assigned to inspect the site was God sent, a very considerate one. The inspector was appalled with the renovation crew's ignorance, trying to do something, which we were not trained to do, but willing. So he taught them how to make the cement reinforcements, he instructed to buy frost barriers (Styrofoam), sono tubes which they found out were only tubes made of thick construction paper boards tough enough to hold cement for constructing concrete post. The city inspector became the construction supervisor in all these and helped prepare for the pouring of cement. He was there supposedly to check our compliance but ended up to be the supervisor. Do you think the work passed his inspection? Of course, no questions about it!




Here Comes the Painters

In the early part of the renovation of the building, three to four people that we do not know suddenly came. They vigorously worked on the doors, cleaning them and preparing them for a fresh coat of paint it needed. Pastor Adap was bothered because he thought to himself "the church has no money, was not time to paint them yet, and besides we can do it ourselves to save money." They told Pastor Adap that they were only told by the owner of the building to paint all of the outside doors.  Pastor Adap insisted, "I am the owner or the person representing the owner", however, they did not pay attention.  They continued painting the doors, but after they have completed their job painting the doors, the leader came and said, "we are sorry, we are in the wrong building".  Pastor Adap replied, “Thank you for your mistake”.  We can only be grateful for the free materials and free labor from these people. Pastor Adap then smiled and expressed thanksgiving, “Thank you Lord for blessing us through the mistakes of others”.




Made To Measure Padded Better Pews

After buying the building while waiting for the renovation permit from the City, Pastor Adap receive a call from a man he does not know. He asked him, "Do you need pews?"  In Pastor Adaps thinking, pews are not in his mind yet, as renovation is his biggest worry. However, the Lord gave him the right words to say. He told the man on the phone,  "My immediate concern is our renovation and that pews are not in my mind yet, but if we can get them for free that would be great." Then the man on the line instructed Pastor Adap, “ If you are interested to have the pews, write a letter to the Board of the Warden Pentecostal Church in Scarborough. Request them to give your church the pews free of charge." He wrote a letter, mailed to the address given and forgot about it.  After several weeks he received another phone call from the same man saying, “Your request is granted, come as soon as possible and remove the pews from the church stockroom, they are waiting for you”.  Birthe Chan, Pastor Adap and a few other church members immediately rented a truck to haul the pews from the Warden Pentecostal Church ... “gratis” no charge. The head deacon of the Pentecostal Church even helped removed the pews from the stockroom, but muttering and seemingly unhappy and saying, “I cannot understand these people in the Church, removing the good pews and installing new pews made of pressed boards.”  Pastor thought in his mind, "I can relate with the deacon because I saw several broken new pews and the ones we are getting were of solid oak." Pastor Adap can only praise God for making Mt. Zion Church special by receiving the better pews. By the way, the cut and dimensions of the pews were just the right size to fit the main Sanctuary layout, considering that the sanctuary is a quarter hexagon shape.  Is that not amazing?




The Fluorescent Lighting Fixtures

Early in the renovation when Pastor Adap's mind set was in the demolition of the inside partitions and built-up offices, he received another phone call from a person that he does not know? The person at the other end of the line said,  "I have lighting fixtures, do you want them?"  So Pastor Adap said, “Of course, where are they?" The answer was in Niagara Falls, which is too far away. In his mind he thought, “forget it, I have no way of getting them. Besides, I do not know if they are the right kind we need.”  But God knows our need and what is good for His church. The following day there was a big pile of lighting fixtures, just the right ones we need and fits exactly to the building plan. The fixtures were installed in due time in the main sanctuary of the Church and still exist today. Thanks to Bro. Jun Imperio, who we found later was  instrumental in the acquisition of these free lighting fixtures.




Door Knobs and Locks

Door knobs and locks are expensive. Another big blessings that came, and they are the expensive kind. Through the auspices again of Brother Jun Imperio, an Electrical Contractor who got a contract in a big renovation of a fairly new building and they were throwing away door paneling including knobs and locks.  He told us to take advantage of this opportunity and we did, more than what we needed. Pastor Adap gladly exclaimed, "God anticipates and knows our needs."




Unselfish Artisans and Church members, part of the Miracle

There are many unselfish members of the Church who sacrificed and contributed time, money and expertise to build Mt. Zion Church. They are part of the miracle.  Money was not coming fast enough, but the renovation has to go on. "Where can we get the money?", Pastor Adap surmises.
Then came some of the church members who are quite savvy in managing their credit cards, "We can lend you our credit card to buy the needed materials, and the church can pay later." What an idea! Bro. Juanito Cardona was on the top of the list of lenders, though there are others whom we cannot remember, but God knows who you are. The construction moved on, the house of worship gets completed in God's time, and the credit card obligations were paid.

Another person whom we cannot forget is the dedication and commitment of Bro. Daniel Belonio, Sr., who led in raising funds for the church building together with his team, mainly through solicitations from friends and relatives around the world. God moves his people in many mysterious ways.

There were other special artisans, expert in their own line of work worth mentioning. Because of their expertise, they stand out in their generosity of their gifts, time and resources. Bro. Emmanuel Samson led out in the electrical installations of all the wirings of the building. He planned, lay out and installed all the electrical lines, lightings and outlets. The congregation saved a lot of money because of him and his crew of helpers. The church only supplied materials. 
Another person is  Bro. Ezekiel Lucrida and his company. He did the gas line installations for the heating, furnaces and kitchen stoves, and even used His own crew of paid workers. The Church saved thousands of dollars because of his leadership in the heating and air conditioning work of the building.
Bro. Rosendo Cuizon's expertise and eye for arts & design was called for in most areas were interior decor and design is needed.  The light dome and the front of the sanctuary, as well as the facade at the back side of the church are his idea and handy works. If you observe the design in the sanctuary, you can identify letters "Y" and "W" by looking up and forward to the front, which stands for "YahWeh" (God). These are gifts of design that Bro. Rosendo has offered to the church as free service.  
A number of members are contented in working at the background and one of them is Bro. Ben Regoso who provided support with his expertise in computer generated layout during the renovation for the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall lights & air blowers, the positioning of the Sanctuary pews as well as other drawings not provided by the architect, including church accessibility layout required by the Fire Department. Also, his expertise in the Finance area provided needed support in analyzing requirements especially during the financing application phase for approval by Ontario Conference, as well as in supporting the decision making process of the Building Committee in determining the future capability of the church in meeting its obligations.




An Expression of Gratitude

By Pastor E. M. Adap, First Pastor of MZFC

I thank God for allowing me to witness some beautiful and wonderful manifestations of His presence in the Mount Zion Filipino Seventh-day Adventist Church. I have no doubt that He has in His mind the need of the Church. God can make some good out of the bad recession. He can enable His children in the midst of difficulties. He can make use of old relationship to be kindled and produce some of the money needed; thanks to Mrs. Talangbayan’s solicitation in California. God honors the faith of His people and answers their prayers. He can make the Church happy through unity to achieve success in their endeavors. He used non-members to bless and share the joys of His people. I also thank the Warden Pentecostal Church, Mr. Tony Trozzolo and the unnamed building inspector, the person who brought the lighting fixtures, and the supplier of building materials who trusted that the church will be able to pay for all the materials delivered. I thank the members who entrusted their credit cards to be used to pay the supplier of building materials. To brother Ely and sister Evelyn Lagazo who re-mortgaged their house and loan the money to pay for the heating system. Thank you to ALL members who became my inspiration for their sacrifices and gladness in helping that made the existence of the Church wonderful. God is indeed amazingly good. To God be all the glory and praise!